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Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

  1. If I have questions about immunizations and reporting immunizations, who should I call?
  2. If a child or staff member gets bit by an animal while at the centre or while in care, who should I call? 
    • Call the rabies team at 705-721-7520 x 8811
    • More information is available on the Rabies and Petting Zoo page
  3. I am interested in opening a new child care centre, what do I have to do to get Public Health approval? 
    • Start by reviewing the requirements and recommendations checklist
    • Once the checklist has been reviewed, owners can call into the Health Connection line at 705-721-7520 ext 8809 to discuss their plans in detail. 
    • On-site inspection will not occur until after the owner has filed for their license with the Ministry of Education. 
  4. How do I submit my policies for SMDHU to review? 
    • Policies can be submitted online or a paper copy can be delivered to either the Barrie office at 15 Sperling Drive or the Gravenhurst Office at 5 Pineridge Gate
  5. What is a DPHS? 
    • DPHS stand for "Disease of Public Health Significance". It is a list of infectious disease designated by the Ontario Government to be of importance in Ontario. Individuals that are diagnosed with a disease that is on the list are investigated for the purpose of disease surveillance, management and prevention of further spread. The list can be found here.
  6. If a child is diagnosed with an infectious disease, what do I do as a supervisor of a child care centre need to do? 
    • There are  a number of diseases that are considered common during childhood. Some are a DPHS and are therefore reportable, some are not. Supervisors can review the Common Childhood Illness Brochure and Quick Reference Guide to review information about the disease and some actions that must be taken by the supervisor including if reporting is necessary and recommended exclusion periods.  If the supervisor still has questions after reviewing the reference, call 705-721-7520 x 8809 Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm for more information. 
  7. What does the health unit mean when they say I need to isolate a sick child? 
    • When a child develops symptoms at the centre, their guardian must be called to come pick up the child. Of course the guardian can't instantly appear therefore in an effort to reduce exposure of disease to other staff and children, the child with the symptoms (or staff if they cannot leave on their own) should be isolated. Ideally this would mean that the child is taken out of the classroom and waits with a staff member who is using appropriate personal protective equipment until their guardian arrives.  SMDHU acknowledges that ratios must be maintained. Therefore, if there is not a staff available to sit with the child in a separate room, isolation could be having the ill child stay in the classroom but seated away from other children.  Cleaning then disinfection will need to occur after the child leaves any area they have been in .
  8. How long does a child/staff need to be excluded after being sick? 
  9. How do I know if my centre is in outbreak? 
    • An outbreak can be declared if one room or the entire centre. When illness levels exceed baseline, this would be considered an outbreak and should be reported to the SMDHU. 
  10. What do you mean by "baseline"? 
    • It is expected that children get sick every once in a while as their immune system develops. As well, children are in many different environments than just child care where they can contract an illness. Therefore, it is expected for there to be some level of illness at the centre, this is your baseline - a level of illness that you would consider normal.  Baselines can change over the years, for example, the level of illness that was expected before the COVID pandemic may look very different than the level of illness you would expect to see today.  If you are unsure what your baseline is, the general rule of thumb is 2 or 3 ill children per classroom.  As you become more familiar with typical illness rates in your centre, you can adjust this number. 
  11. How can I avoid outbreaks at my centre? 
    • Sometimes outbreaks are unavoidable. However, practices to help reduce outbreaks include good hand hygiene among staff and children, thorough cleaning before disinfection of surfaces and toys, promoting everyone in the centre to be up to date with their vaccinations, ensuring food is properly handled (this will prevent foodborne illness) and ensuring parents understand the importance of keeping ill children at home.
  12. What is the purpose of a line list? 
    • Line lists are excellent tools to help track illness at the centre. Staff will be required to complete and submit daily line lists during outbreaks, but staff can also use them outside of outbreaks to help them track illness at the centre during non-outbreak periods. Lie lists provide a summary of the illness and allow the staff to identify trends. 
    • ]Watch this video to learn more about how to fill out a line list (Coming soon)
  13. Do I always have to clean before using a disinfectant?
    • Yes. Toys./surfaces must always be cleaned before they can be disinfected. Cleaning with soap, water and scrubbing will remove any dirt on the toy/surface., it can also help to remove larger pathogens. This enables the disinfectant to be used more effectively. 
  14. What about books? Can they be cleaned? 
    • Books made of paper cannot be cleaned and disinfected. Alternatively, staff can rotate the books they have available for children in the the classroom. Most pathogens won't survive on surfaces forever. By rotating the books, it gives the time needed for pathogens to die on the surfaces on their own. Rotation of books and other toys also provides the children with more variety as they will often forget about items that have been put away. Keep a log of when items were put away to track when they can come back into the classroom. This works for any items that cannot be cleaned and disinfected. The typical rule is 1 week in classroom, 2 weeks out of classroom. 
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